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LS polls 2019: From Ramayana to Mahabharata, references to mythological figures make comeback in political slogans

Sublime or gaudy, election slogans, name calling and pithy one-liners are perhaps the easiest way to demystify political discourse for the masses. Part of the reason they are still the most effective way of communicating a direct message to the masses 70 years after India adopted democracy is because, unlike party manifestos and television debates, they are direct, bereft of the usual cacophony and are never intellectualised. They are short and catchy. Throw in a dash of folklore, religious symbols and some well known mythical characters, and the political speeches become unforgettable.

 LS polls 2019: From Ramayana to Mahabharata, references to mythological figures make comeback in political slogans

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Twitter@Narendra Modi

Priyanka Gandhi could have chosen to dedicate an hour-long speech to define that Congress would be a better choice over BJP, but by labelling Narendra Modi as Duryodhana, she managed to convey the point nonetheless, and in fewer words.

"This country has never forgiven egoism and pride. History is witness. Mahabharata too is witness. Duryodhana too had such an ego. When Lord Krishna went to show them to light, they tried to take him captive as well," Priyanka thundered at a rally in Ambala, Haryana.

Hours later and miles away in West Bengal, Amith Shah was ready with a comeback. He used another character from the epic Mahabharata, Arjuna to impress upon voters that prime minister Modi is everything the character, strongly recognised among the masses, represents: an able warrior who fought for dharma, and an ace marksman.

Likewise, in Bihar, JD(U)'s Sanjay Singh invited Opposition RJD's ire for calling Misa Bharti Surpanakha, a character from Ramayana.

"Her (Misa Bharti’s) role in the Lalu family is that of Surpanakha, as Surpanakha was responsible for the friction between Ravana and his younger brother Vibhishana, Misa Bharti is playing the same role creating hostility between her two younger brothers Tej Pratap and Tejashwi,” Singh said after reports that Misa has espoused Tejashwi's claim to the family throne earning the ire of Tej Pratap, who had publicly declared himself 'doosra Lalu'.

Earlier this year, BJP (MLA) Surendra Singh had courted controversy for calling Rahul and Priyanka ‘Ravana’ and ‘Surpanakha’ who were the mythological villains in Ramayana. Singh made the controversial comment in a bid to downplay Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into active politics.

Singh had earlier termed Modi Lord Rama, who he said would establish 'Ram Rajya' — a model for good governance depicted in Ramayana.

"This team of Ram, Lakshman (Shah) and Hanuman (Yogi Adityanath) will realise the dream of Ram rajya in Bharat and Ram Rajya will be established in national politics," Singh said.

As for Mamata, she had already labelled Modi and Shah as "Duryodhana and Dushasana ki jodi" at an election rally in Cooch Behar on 8 April. The two characters were eldest among Kaurava brothers and are hated for usurping the throne that rightfully belonged to the Pandavas.

In July last year, the Congress had referred to the PM as "Dhritrashtra".

"Sensing defeat in 2019 general elections, Prime Minister Modi has become blind like Dhritarashtra due to his lust for power. By spreading hatred and pursuing divisive politics, he is aiming to win the election,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had said.

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Updated Date: May 08, 2019 18:36:19 IST